Wednesday, May 15, 2013

940. Todo sobre mi madre/All About My Mother (1999)

Running Time: 101 minutes
Directed By: Pedro Almodovar
Written By: Pedro Almodovar
Main Cast: Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Antonia San Juan, Penelope Cruz, Candela Pena
Click here to view the trailer


So this past Sunday was Mother's Day and had I put two and two together, a little bit earlier, I would've watched "All About My Mother" then, instead of last night. Oh well, better late than never, as I take in Almodovar's 1999 tribute to mother's everywhere and women in general.

The film is going to be a little tricky to explain, as it implements the use of several characters to tell a pretty complex little story. We start with Manuela (Roth), who we see is a nurse who oversees donor organ transplants. We also learn right away that she has a son, Esteban, who is interested in becoming a writer. It is Esteban's 17th birthday and Manuela takes him out to a theater performance of "A Streetcar Named Desire". After the show, Esteban convinces Manuela to let him stand outside and wait for the star of the show, Huma Rojo (Paredes), so that he may get her autograph. Despite the rain, Manuela doesn't want to disappoint the kid on his birthday, so she obliges. When Huma finally comes out, she gets into a taxi right away and despite Esteban's knocks on the window, Huma and her girlfriend pull away. Esteban, determined to get her autograph chases down the taxi and is killed by another, oncoming car, which runs him down. Manuela is grief stricken, to say the least and decides to go to Barcelona, where Esteban's father is. Esteban had always wanted to know about his father, but due to his lifestyle choices (he's a transsexual prostitute), she'd always kept it from him. In Barcelona, Manuela meets up with old friend Agrado (another transsexual prostitute), meets Huma Rojo and meets a nun, Rosa (Cruz), whom she becomes very close with. I'll leave it at that, but lets just suffice it to say that the story is a brilliantly spun web, that just keeps on producing turn after turn.

I've got to be honest, despite loving "Talk to Her", I was a little hesitant to watch "All About My Mother", because I'd heard that "Talk to Her" was his most normal film and that all of his others were a little bit odd. Well, I guess you could categorize "All About My Mother" as a little different in it's style, but it still dealt with very human characters, getting into very human, real situations. I thought the film was almost AS good as "Talk to Her" and while I enjoyed his 2002 offering better overall, there were aspects of "Mother" that I liked better. I thought that this movie was much more complex, better written and possibly even better acted.  Cecilia Roth was an amazing discovery for me, as I'd never heard of her before and really thought she poured her heart out here. I'm left wondering what else she's been in and where I can get a hold of it. Even Penelope Cruz, who I'd never really cared for in the past, turned in a pretty decent performance. My only question is this, which I couldn't seem to find the answer to in the little research that I did after watching this one: Were the men who played women in this film, really men? or were they women? I honestly couldn't tell and I'm really talking about Agrado here.

Look, I've been saying for days now that I'm getting a little burnt out on writing these reviews and working my way toward my short term goal of 700 watched, but "All About My Mother" actually made me grateful that I've decided to keep on truckin'. It's that type of film that makes you want to watch more films, because it makes you realize that around every corner could be your next favorite movie. "All About My Mother" isn't my new favorite movie and it did have a few flaws, however, it was good enough to give me back a little more excitement, which I'll need to finish out the season and for that I am thankful. The story is top notch and while the "Talk to Her" story was a little more simple and a little better, I thought this was right up there. It also makes me realize what a magnificent filmmaker Almodovar is and really makes me excited to see more of his pictures.

RATING: 7.5/10  Really good and hopefully I can find a nice spot for it in the upcoming TOP 20 list. Almodovar may just be the directorial find of this season.


May 15, 2013  12:49pm


  1. I enjoyed this one as well, and it was my first Almodovar. Suffice it to say, I'll have high-ish expectations for his other entries.

    I hear you on "getting burnt out;" I have taken hiatuses from going through the list because certainly not all the films are enjoyable. But just as you noted, every time I feel as though I'm slogging through a marsh, a bright shining jewel will appear and I'll remember why I'm on this journey. Nice to hear this film was one such jewel for you.

    1. Thanks a lot! Yeah, "All About My Mother" definitely served to fill up my gas tank and get me through the last leg of this season...


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